Hobby Store Questions

Today, I had time to ponder a question. What do you want your hobby store to be?


Do you want to find it in your shopping mall, in a dark corner of a subway concourse, in a suburban strip mall, or tucked away in an industrial section of town. I can find hobby shops in all of these places in the metropolitan Toronto area.  Prices seem to be cheaper in the industrial area, but less convenient to get to, and somewhat dark.

Do you want it to cover the full diversity of hobbies, or do you want it specialized? I prefer the specialized stores, even though they tend to be somewhat overwhelming in nature.  I think I just prefer the directness of the advice rather than the some general knowledge.

What made me ponder this question. Today I went to a hobby store that I hadn’t been to in many years.  They have moved shop from a bigger location or they shrunk from two stores to one.  I am not sure and I don’t want to speculate.  They have a lot of stuff crammed into the one store and it got me thinking.

They had trains (HO and N) model kits (gundam, cars, military) RC (boats, planes, and cars in multiple scales). and rocket kits.  Of course they had paint, glue, tools, fuel, spare parts, balsa wood, and even a few jigsaw puzzles.  Really, a lot of stuff…just nothing I was looking for today except some paint.

It was still fun to wander around the aisles and ponder what I could do next…if I didn’t have so many projects and hobbies to do next.


A Question of Money

I was listening to a radio programme yesterday on the CBC Radio.  A man who was a huge collector or something (I am not quite clear what it was because I picked up the programme as it was finishing) was talking about his spending contract with his wife.  He had written a contract that specified how much he could spend a month on his hobby.

The hosts took him fairly seriously and the guest didn’t take himself too seriously.  He also explained that he often broke the budget for “special sales/events” that fell outside of the contract.

It got me thinking about how I spend money on hobbies.  I don’t really have a budget.  I control my spending the old fashioned way….fear that I won’t be able to eat if I spend too much.

Then I started thinking about my hobbies and which ones cost the most money, which ones cost more money than I expected.  Cycling has been the least expensive.  Once I bought the bike, except for some clothes and some nutritional supplements, there isn’t a huge ongoing cost.  Of course, going on cycling trips, which I have done, costs money.  Of course, I think of these as vacations, totally unrelated to my club cycling.

I balked at stamp collecting because it seemed like something that my start off small, but grow to something huge if left unchecked.  You might start off collecting one country and used stamps and then up trying to collect the world in mint stamps.  Deluxe books for stamps cost a small fortune, not to mention inventory software and travel to stamp shows.

I suppose coins are much the same.  The book to house the almost one hundred years of the Canadian penny is probably worth more than the pennies themselves.

Hockey cards seem to have so many sets and special cards that you’d be through your budget in no time.

I suppose all collections start like that.  They start small, but they grow.  Suddenly you are spending more money on storing the collection and reading about the collection than actually collecting.

How do you set a budget for whatever your hobby is?  Is it a monthly amount or a yearly amount?


Cycling: What I Have Learned So Far

As I push ever farther into the world of cycling I have learned lots of fascinating things.  I have been thinking of getting a new bike, but with winter approaching (add as many Game of Thrones quotes as you want here) I am wondering if I should wait.  As a result of this indecision, I have been doing a lot of research.

Ø      Not far from where I live, there exists a 15 km or so (it is longer, but construction issues for bridges and such has blocked off part of the trail until next year).  I have ridden it a couple of times and it was amazing.  If you want to read about my ride and see some great pictures, please click on the link here: http://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/august-24-2014-the-nokiidaa-trail/

Ø      There are a huge number of bike shops in my area, and along my commute path, and near my work.  I had no idea cycling was so popular.  When I was young, only children rode bikes.  The upside of this is lots of places to shop.  The downside is that even places which sold reasonable bikes now have some higher end bikes, and prices seem quite high.  I mean, I have seen bikes which cost as much as my car did when I bought it new.

Ø      There are a lot of magazines devoted to the hobby/pursuit.  I have counted about 10, and I am sure there are more.  That’s incredible.  Whoever said the printing medium was done was obviously wrong.  Despite the complaints of these magazines just being glossy catalogues that push expensive and unnecessary products on the gullible, there is some decent writing between the pages.

Ø      There is a crapload of extras for the cycling crowd.  Is all of it necessary?  Of course not.  Is some of it vanity driven?  Absolutely.   Does it affect me….. sadly, I have to answer yes.

Ø      I like riding a bike much more than going to a gym.  Seems pretty obvious, but that is what fuels the decision to buy a nice bike.  Living in a climate which produces bone chilling cold and snow for a large part of the year doesn’t help.

Summing it all up.  I am definitely interested in this hobby.  Where I take it from here, only time will tell.

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust

Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn’t all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.
I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn’t seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence–or is it.  Perhaps, I really don’t need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don’t need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.

The Number One Hobby I Would Take Up–RC Helicopters

And we come to the end of my list of hobbies I would like to take up if time and money were no concern.  I hope you have enjoyed it and I would like to hear what hobbies you would like to take up if you had either time or money or patience or whatever.  Please leave a comment.
The number one hobby (at this moment–because my mind changes constantly) that I would like to take up is RC Flying.  This one is kind of a surprise to me because I spent a lot of time at a few RC stores (once upon a time I was into RC cars–actually I still am, just not as much) and rarely ever looked at the planes.  I think I was intimidated by the whole thing.  Either that or those crappy planes on a string that I had as a child didn’t inspire me at all. (You remember those things, they basically went around in a cirlce)

I should clarify.  I probably wouldn’t get into airplanes (though a model of the Red Baron would probably look cool) but rather into helicopters.  I find helicopters fascinating and would love to learn how to fly one (definitely the $50,000 it would take to learn makes this idea out of reach) for real.  Perhaps it was my television upbringing that inspired this.  On several of my favourite childhood shows (The A Team, Riptide, Airwolf) helicopters featured prominently.

Unlike most of my “would like to” hobbies, I really haven’t done any research.  I haven’t checked out the magazines.  I haven’t scoured online stores and I haven’t gone to any stores recently.  These are all things that I would normally do, but somehow I have resisted.  I can’t say it will never happen, but I really have to complete a lot of other things first.

I don’t know a lot about RC helicopter flying.  I imagine that I would have to do it in a park, probably when there weren’t a lot of kids around.  Even then, there might be some bylaw against it.  However, it sure would be cool.

That’s the end of the list, but not the end of the blog.  As I wrote above, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please leave a comment about my list, or a list of your own.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Hobbies I would take up: The bottom Five (part 1)


I originally intended this to be a top 5 of hobbies I would like to take up, but can’t or won’t for various reasons.  When I came up with this topic, I had five.  When I took a moment to write them down, I found out that I had more than 10 (and as I type this I my brain is firing out new ideas… and when I walk around the mall this afternoon, I am sure I will come up with a few more) .  So, basically, I will cap the number at 10 and rather than rank the ones that are not in the top five, they will just be called the bottom five.

So here we go:  hobbies I would take up if time or money (or space, or energy or talent….) were not a consideration.

A musical instrument.

a) The guitar

What person hasn’t wanted to learn a musical instrument?  I have always envied that guy at the party who whips out a guitar and has every girl’s attention.  I remember one radio DJ (the great Kristie Knight) who said that if you wanted attention from women, learn how to play Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.  Apparently, it isn’t a particularly hard song to learn, and actual real guitar talent is not needed.

I have tried learning guitar before.  I spent a bit of time when I lived in Japan pursuing the hobby.  I have fond memories of playing on the deck of my friend Matt’s house, drinking beer, hoping for breeze and looking at the rice fields.  I didn’t really play, I just strummed the one chord while he did his thing.  Surprisingly, the effect was not bad.  It might not have set the pop charts on fire, but …..

I have always been fond of the blues and would love to play the slide guitar.  There is just something so moving and powerful about blues music and the slide guitar.  Of course, in addition to the guitar I would have to learn all about “open tuning”…. but I guess I am getting ahead of myself.

As I said, I have tried to learn, and even managed to build up some decent calluses, but a lot more time and effort would be needed.  I didn’t really give it a good shot, but like all hobbies, if you don’t make the progress you think you should make, in the time you think you should make it, then you probably won’t continue.


b) The Cello

Though, I am not a big fan of classical music, there is something I really like about the cello.  Perhaps it relates to my fondness for slide guitar (the crying sound of the instrument perhaps) or because of some lost episode of fame in which Julie Singer played a cello solo.  Either way, I would love to play this instrument.

The obstacles to this are quite numerous.  I probably don’t have an especially good ear for music, and there is definitely a lack of raw talent.  In addition to this, I am pretty sure the instrument itself is pretty expensive.  When it come right down to it, I don’t know how popular the instrument is, and finding a teacher might be difficult.  Lastly, of course, when was the last time you saw a person pull out a cello and entertain people at a party, or at the cottage, or around the campfire?  If you answered never, you’re probably in good company.